Saturday, April 30, 2011

State Advises Caution When Helping Storm Victims

April brought tremendous storm damage to Tennessee and surrounding states. In the wake of this week’s tragedy, many Tennesseans may want to help by giving their time or money. Secretary of State Tre Hargett advises people to use caution when donating money to those claiming they will provide help to storm victims.

“Tennesseans are very generous people who want to help when disasters like this occur,” Secretary Hargett said. “Unfortunately, there are corrupt individuals and organizations who may try to take advantage of that generosity. Before making charitable contributions, would-be donors should try to learn as much as they can about individuals and organizations who claim to be raising money for relief efforts.”

Secretary Hargett recommends researching charities before making donations, paying by check instead of giving out credit card numbers and asking lots of questions.

“We urge everyone who suspects a charity of fraudulent activity to call the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming,” said Todd Kelley, the head of the division. “We want to help ensure that donations made to charitable causes actually reach the people they are intended to help.”

The Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming, which is part of the Office of the Secretary of State, is authorized to investigate and impose civil penalties against individuals or groups who engage in fraudulent or misleading fundraising activities. Information on registered charities, including their annual financial reports, is available on the Secretary of State’s web site at: To obtain information about charities by telephone or to report suspicious activity, call the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming at (615) 741-2555.